Why are we OK with destroying the planet?

This is one question that can spark a lot of debate but truly, why are we OK with destroying the planet? Of course that’s an assumption – most of us don’t want to destroy the planet – but do we care enough? Or have we dismissed it and put caring for our planet in the proverbial “too-hard basket”?

First of all, we need to look at how we’re destroying the planet – because you cannot deny that it’s happening. Just this week, there were a number of articles about how wet wipes are contributing to our world’s waste issue, much how disposable nappies have. Then there’s the deforestation of the Amazon jungle (as much as 20 per cent has been cut down), mining, the use of fuel cars despite electric technology – the list goes on. But isn’t this just how it goes? Is it too much effort to preserve rather than destroy?

We have the ability to drive electric cars and reduce air pollution yet the big oil companies and countries would be affected. Hemp is one of the world’s strongest and most useful materials yet we do not take advantage of it despite it growing from the ground. Instead, we live in a world that values greed. Are we just a pawn in the game? Or do we have a say?

Our government here in Australia places very little emphasis on the environment and how we, the average person, can make a difference. Gone are the days of environmental ads encouraging us to recycle, or even the Channel Seven program ‘The World Around Us’. Gone are water restrictions from capital cities despite their effectiveness in reducing water consumption. In Southeast Queensland pre-drought, the average water usage per person per household was 240L, and after the drought it was reduced down to 180L, though during the drought it was at a low of 140L, thanks to government campaigns and subsidies such as a little timer you could put in the bathroom to time a four-minute shower, and the free pack that included a water-saving shower head. But now, nearly 10 years on, no such restrictions apply and people are back to their water-wasting ways. We’re also dangerously close to losing our precious Great Barrier Reef forever.

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Even Sir David Attenborough said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources. “We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times. Do you agree with him?

So what can we do? In Canada, the City of Vancouver have put a complete ban on food scraps in the bin and have started to penalise people for throwing out too much. This enforcement has reduced the landfill and has forced accountability on everyday citizens and to think before they buy. Then there’s the girl who didn’t throw out anything for a whole year – she used recyclable containers and made a conscientious effort to reduce her carbon footprint – can you imagine what it would be like if each one of us made an effort to reduce our footprint? Perhaps the government wouldn’t have to impose then abolish a carbon tax.

Consider this: we as a race care less and less for the possessions we buy, and are disposing of them more quickly than ever. Yet the raw materials required to produce them, the pollution created in their manufacturing, the infrastructure and noise and burning of fuel needed to transport them are destroying a natural world that is much more beautiful than anything we could possibly purchase.

If every single person started to reduce his or her waste, it could change the world. But would you want to do it? Would it take a government program to make you take notice?

Tell us your thoughts below.